The human relationship to light is primal. It is one that allows us to see beauty around us, to discern the tiniest of details, and to read our environment, producing an innate, instinctual response. This is why, in holistic design, lighting is one of the most important aspects to tackle. After all, the right lighting concept will help you make leaps and bounds toward achieving your mental wellness goals.
According to an article posted by LEDinside.com, “Lighting can help create excitement in a themed environment. Lighting can help a person navigate through a new space. Lighting can help to bring about a sense of calm and peacefulness in a sacred setting. Lighting can help to add mystery in a theatrical production. And, lighting can cause us to strongly dislike a room which we would otherwise find appealing.” Of course, conversely, lighting can cause us to love a room that we once found uninviting. However, to understand how to leverage a lighting concept properly, we have to understand the effect lighting has on our moods.
Natural light far surpasses artificial light when it comes to wellness. This has been confirmed with WELL light component research, which notes the potential for artificial light to do lasting damage to our fragile bodies. This is because lamps and other lighting elements cast light that is comprised of a combination of UV and infared rays. Although most of the commercially available lighing elements at the retail level are considered low risk, over time, they can lead to hormone, eye, and skin issues.
Although physical health risks of artificial light are relatively low, its effects on our moods can be more immediate and acute. Artificial lighting can disrupt the body clock, causing poor sleep—a major contributor to mood. Bright light is essential in the morning to kickstart a balanced day, and natural light is vital throughout the day to keep us positive and productive. But many of us don’t get this exposure, or much exposure at all, as we hop from an artificially lit home to a poorly lit office, and back home in the dark. Among other things, this can also lead to lower levels of vitamin d, which is a known cause of depression.
All of this must be taken into consideration as you design a lighting concept for the home. It is clear that making natural light a priority is key, allowing you to work with your body’s natural, circadian rhythm. You must consider your body’s needs throughout the day by thinking critically about our human relationship to our earthly surroundings.
A company getting this right is CoeLux, a unique lighting company that reproduces the true effect of natural sunlight entering through the opening in the integrated ceiling. Their mission is to create the illusion of a wide, naturally lit, open space by recreating the sun’s effects indoors. The CoeLux lighting system uses the integrated opening in the ceiling to mimic a skylight, featuring a bright, nearly infinite light, juxtaposed by blue light that simulates the sky.
In humans, this produces similar responses to those we experience outside. And with the light changing throughout the day, the body is able to relax into its natural rhythm, feeling energized in the morning, productive in the afternoon, relaxed in the evening, and ready to power down at night.
The science of color also plays a role in our relationship to lighting. Blue light is best for concentration and productivity, whereas yellow light increases happiness, and red light promotes alertness but does not suppress melatonin production in the body, and is therefore optimal for use at night. Bulbs of these colors can be integrated into the bedroom or workspace, while large windows or big, bright ceiling fixtures mimicking natural light should be used throughout the home.
Light plays a huge part in our lives, offering a steady reminder of how closely tied we are to the planet. Though the relationship seems complicated, it’s really quite simple, which is incredibly empowering. The key is looking at things in their primal state, which paints a clear picture of how our environment contributes to our natural wellbeing.
Laurence Carr is founder & CEO of Laurence Carr Design, an award winning interior design firm in New York City providing full service and e-design services to clients. She creates exquisite holistic interiors that promote mindful living and harmony, while attaining a level of sophistication through layering modern art, furniture, antiques and accents. Born in France, Laurence has 20 years experience in design, the performing arts, and fashion. She has been nationally published and is a frequent speaker and panelist in major industry related events.